When I first heard about Steam Incorporated’s Kapiti Coast Express Family Fun Day I immediately thought it would be perfect for an excursion in period dress. It didn’t take much convincing to get Liane on board and, as the day fell on her birthday, she also thought that it would be a fun way to celebrate.
On Sunday, we were a party of four (down one from our planned number of five) – myself, the birthday girl Liane, her daughter Hannah, and her elder sister Dina. We all got ourselves ready at Liane’s place, double checked that we had our train tickets, and off we went.
We arrived at the station with about twenty minutes to spare before the train’s scheduled departure and were greeted by various volunteers and other passengers on the platform with a mixture of surprise and curiosity. We were asked why we were dressed up and had we made our own outfits, we were complimented and asked for photos.
The train steamed into the station magnificently and the platform buzzed with the passengers departing, and the passengers wishing to climb aboard. We were still having photos taken so were in the latter half of boarding passengers. Which meant that we accidentally ended up giving a bit of an impromptu fashion show as we had to walk through several carriages before we found seats together. It was highly amusing to watch some of the passengers’ reactions as they suddenly clicked that the woman walking past them was in period dress, as were the three following.
We found seats together in Carriage H, which was a Second Class Carriage (alas, no First Class Carriages to sit in). A short welcome from the driver came over the speakers and the train gave a small start and then we were moving. Having got quite used to the electric trains of Auckland while I lived there I immediately noticed two things – the noise and the bumpiness. Not that either of these was at all unbearable – just different.
As we were underway passengers started moving about, up and down the carriage to take a turn standing out on the little viewing platform. One of the Steam Incorporated volunteers was walking through the carriages armed with a rather serious looking camera and took several photos of us.
After sitting for a while we decided to investigate the balcony for ourselves. Liane and Dina spent a little time out there before finding it a tad too noisy (and windy) and headed back to our seats while Hannah and I stayed out long enough to still be there when we passed through the tunnel!
We returned to our seats for the rest of the twenty-minute journey which brought us to Paekakariki. This station not only serves as a station for regular trains in and out of Wellington but the building has been preserved and turned into a bookshop, a museum, and a mini tea-room.
The museum volunteers were thrilled to see us and insisted on taking several photos of us which they have posted on their Facebook page (they’ve even used one as their cover photo – that’s never happened to me before so that’s quite cool). We looked around inside the museum for a bit and then wandered up and down the station before taking tea and nibbling on some shortbread at Petticoat Junction, waiting for the train to return.
Again, we couldn’t find seats in the first carriage we stepped into and ended up doing the same impromptu fashion show as we moved through the carriages. It wasn’t possible to sit all together this time so Hannah and I took seats in one carriage (and discovered that we were in Carriage H again!) while Liane and Dina moved down a couple more carriages to sit together. One of the volunteers couldn’t resist asking us if we had a stage coach meeting us at the station, to which, I replied, that we had a horseless carriage. He thought it was brilliant.
Upon arriving back at the station Hannah and I disembarked and then played the fun game of ‘which carriage did Liane and Dina sit in?’ while standing on the platform. They seemed to be taking their time and we were complimented and photographed while we waited. Finally, Liane and Dina appeared from their carriage and, reunited, made the slow, short journey back to the car, stopping on occasion to answer questions.
But that’s not where this story ends… oh no, for we had another adventure and an amazing unexpected encounter later that afternoon. And that, my dears, shall have to wait for another post….